My Dear Mother, -
To-day is just like a day in June - very warm. Just a month since arriving over here and I have had a great deal of flying, took part in a push, beginning to get accustomed in this branch of the service.
The push was a most successful one as you have read. It was well organized and our artillery is wonderful, too much cannot be said about their good work. What a change from a year ago. The poor Huns must be driven almost crazy. I wonder how long they can stick it. Their line is completely broken and haven't even counter-attacked. A few more pushes like this one and where would they be?
Bt. Barker, Pilot, and I have been flying together practically all this month and still are. We had the most flying for the past week in the flight and have done a great deal this week also.
Day before yesterday while up we saw a wonderful view of the clouds, but let me try and tell you about it. A layer of clouds across the sky at a height of 2000' ft and we much higher. The sun in the west shining across them towards us. They looked like big glaciers with rolling piles of snow (white) on them. Reminded me of the glaciers in the Mts and seemed to feel the cold breeze from them. The edge of the clouds was rugged like a shore line and they cast a deep shadow on the earth beneath. You've seen pictures of the dash for the pole, it was like that. It was the most wonderful sight I have ever seen. We passed over them and here and there you could see through a hole and look down on the fields. The clouds were heavy and white.
A few days ago we were going up through the clouds dodging here and there to miss them and it was just like dodging big piles of rolling snow. It is rather dangerous in a cloud, very very difficult to keep the machine under control, only the instruments to guide you, not being able to see the ground. I remember what a vague idea I had of flying before and it makes it difficult for me to try and tell you about everything. It is impossible to describe it. Sometimes it is bumpy and like on the ocean, at these times I begin to feel a bit green, an old complaint of mine. Other times it is absolutely smooth, smoother than any pavement. It isn't bumpy at a great height only close to the ground.
I have been up over 10000' ft 2 or 3 times escorting a machine taking photos. This is rather a [?] job only have to follow the other machine and look out for Huns. Have seen them at some distance but never very close.
I qualified for my observers wing and it will be In orders shortly. In an another month or two begin to look for leave and after that go back to England to learn to fly. I feel that it is more my job. Have taken control of the machine once in a while up in the air. They are dual control but have never tried taking-off or landing. This is the most difficult part about flying.
Have just finished 2 hrs & 25 min. in the air and glad to get down and get warm. I did a success full shoot and also watched for flashes of Hun's guns. Didn't see any flashes. Pilot (Barker), just for fun starting climbing to see how high we could get - got up over 2000' over 2 miles high. Do you think you could fly? The higher you go the colder it is. Neither of us had flying coats or gloves on, just helmet & goggles and it was a bit chilly. I generally wear a flying coat. It is leather, lined with wool - splendid coat. Also we have long thigh boots, leather (soft) lined with thick wool, rubber soles & heals - the thing for winter flying.
The photos should be coming along now. Received the receipt to-day. Had letter from Willie, he owes me one now.
Two parcels arrived glad to have socks, handkerchiefs, nice candy. We had cake this afternoon for tea. Several of the fellows remarked that it was "real good cake, Canada." I am only Canadian in our flight. A good bunch and I don't mind. The cookies & candy were also eaten in the mess and were good. The cookies were a bit broken but were eaten all the same. The cake wasn't the least dinted. Perhaps you would have liked me to have kept it till 19th but perhaps I'll stand the mess a feed of strawberries for dinner. We have had a few already.
To-night 8 p.m. (now) we eat dinner out in the open under the shade of some canvas fastened up by four poles. Gramophone is out also and is playing. Can you realize what a pleasant change after infantry in ranks? After dinner we will have some football. Tennis Court is not fixed-up yet. Don't forget to enjoy yourself at the lack as far as I am concerned but Willie is having his share no doubt but thinks of you at home worrying. He wrote telling me to write you oftener which I must do.
Your last letter dated May 14th. - Dinner ready.
Instead of playing football we kicked the rugby ball till dark. The first time for many months. It was good to be handling the ball again. Reminded me of days at school and lake and particularly that game in Regina when Univ. team played Regina. You were there do you remember. Did you know that I was dazed all thru that game. I didn't realize it till after when I went home alone in the street car when Reg. & you all were with the car. Don't think I'll ever forget that game.
I hope Mrs. Longworthy does not take it too badly, she has all her sons over here. But Howie away I can't imagine what it would be like at home without him. It is too awful to think about.
I hope you are better now and will keep that way. You must be strong. What should I wish you on your silver wedding day. Congratulate you on the happy home you have made and that only one of your sons is somewhat careless. May your next 25 yrs. be as happy and peaceful, or more so.
Wish Pa every success as I [?] member if he gets in. Hope Aunt Mag. Improves. Remember me to Am[?] Day. Received papers.
Must close for to-night up early flying to-morrow. Love to Art, Mary, Reg. Pa & yourself.
Your loving son Jim.
Better address c/o Mr. Reid save delay.